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Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who authorized the Vatican's investment in the property.YouTube screenshot

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VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – The Vatican announced Friday that it sold the London property at the center of an ongoing corruption trial involving prominent Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu.

In a July 1 press release, the Holy See announced the sale of the London property that has been the subject of a Vatican financial scandal rumbling for some years and involving high-level members of the Roman Curia.

The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) wrote it had “completed the sale to Bain Capital of the building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London, with total proceeds of 186 million pounds. The Secretariat for the Economy followed the entire procedure in its various stages.”

Financial losses from the property, situated in the affluent London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, were “conferred to the reserve of the Secretariat of State,” read the statement, “without in any way in this circumstance touching Peter’s Pence, and with it the donations of the faithful.”

Bain Capital is an investment firm based in Boston, co-founded in 1984 by Republican U.S. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, and which manages over $160 billion of assets. 

A view of the building in Sloane Avenue, in London
A view of 60 Sloane Avenue, in London. Credit: Vatican News

The Associated Press estimated the Vatican had spent around €350 million (around $359 million) on the building and that it lost around €200 ($205 million).

In order to “ensure the transparency and independence of the valuation process, the Holy See sought the assistance of Savills Real Estate Broker,” which was chosen through a selection process of bidding through 2021.

No specific date was given for the sale, only that the transaction was “finalized in recent months with the choice of buyer and finally the deed of sale.”

The sale marks the closure of part of the ongoing scandal surrounding the property and its links to the Vatican. The scandal traces back to 2014, when Cardinal George Pell was appointed as the Vatican’s new Secretariat for the Economy and hired auditor general Libero Milone after almost 1 billion “tucked-away” euros were discovered.

The Vatican’s investment into the property was authorized by Becciu, a former second in command – sostituto – in the Secretariat of State. 

In 2014, Becciu bought a stake in 60 Sloane Avenue, a luxury London real estate development using charitable funds from the Vatican as collateral for loans of 200 million euros (around $260 million using conversion rates at the time) that were then funneled through a fund operated by Raffaele Mincione. 

Mincione’s company had purchased the property in 2012 and sold a stake in it to the Vatican. 

When the Vatican finalized its buyout in 2018 – courtesy of Becciu and Monsignor Mauro Carlino, Becciu’s former secretary – Mincione made around £128 million from the Vatican in the process.

Becciu “personally authorized” the transactions, allegedly keeping them off official Vatican ledgers in order not to draw the attention of Cardinal Pell.

In late 2020, Francis accepted Becciu’s resignation, when he also renounced his privileges as a cardinal and rescinded his post as Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Following investigations into financial corruption on the part of Becciu, the disgraced prelate was indicted July 2021 by the Vatican Tribunal. He was joined with nine others also indicted for corruption. 

Becciu was personally charged with “embezzlement and abuse of office, also in collaboration, as well as subornation,” and Mincione was charged with “fraud, abuse of office, embezzlement and self-laundering.” Carlino was accused of “extortion and abuse of office.”

Becciu is also accused of having channeled money to his bother’s charity, using funds overseen by the Secretariat of State, €100,000 of which came from the Pope’s personal charity, Peter’s Pence.

The trial continues as its one-year anniversary fast approaches. Becciu continues to deny wrongdoing.

Becciu’s lawyers also claimed in 2020 that Pope Francis himself had supported the investment deal.